The panda election

Back from my trip away now, and has anything much happened in my absence? You stop paying attention to British politics for a couple of days, and suddenly everything has changed. In 2014 Scotland was told that it needed the stability and security of the UK in order to ensure our democracy, now what counts as long term in British politics is the length of time it takes you to go and make a cup of tea whenever Stirling Tory MP Stephen Kerr oils up a TV studio and is interviewed on the telly. Because it’s either a cup of tea or you’ll throw your shoe at the screen and imported TV sets will be a lot more expensive after Brexit. Ruth Davidson might have resigned as leaderene of the Tory party in Scotland, but Scottish Conservative MPs still very much take their cue from her. They prove that it’s possible to be simultaneously media constructs and PR disasters.

The big news is of course that we’re in for a General Election on 12 December. As this blog site has argued previously, all routes to an independence referendum must pass over the bridge of an early Westminster General election. Arguments and disputes about the best strategy for obtaining the prize of an independence referendum in 2020 are all conditional upon what happens next month. That means that whatever you think about how effective the SNP have or have not been about asserting Scotland’s right to decide its own future, we must ensure that as many SNP MPs as possible are returned in this coming election, and that the SNP’s share of the vote is as high as we can make it. It’s vital to resurrect the old joke, and make sure that there are more pandas in Scotland than Conservative MPs. And Labour and Lib Dem MPs too, while we are at it. Admittedly pandas are far cuter than your average Scottish Conservative MP, but then so is projectile vomiting.

This election is one of the most important in the history of the UK. It’s a Brexit election England and Wales, an independence election in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland it’s about the relationship between the six counties and the rest of the island. This is the election which may or may not decide what the UK thinks of Brexit, although it’s a safe bet that what most of us think of Brexit is ‘Ugh’. This election may or may not provide a breakthrough in the Brexit logjam. This election may or may not create a majority government.

This General Election will also be the one that begins the end of the UK. On 12 December we will have Scotland’s chance to say clearly and loudly that this country asserts its right to decide its own future, irrespective of what the rest of the UK wants. This is Scotland’s chance to tell the rest of the UK that our country’s right to choose its own path is not and will not be contingent upon the permission of Boris Johnson. This is the election when Scotland can say yes to independence and to Europe, and no to Boris Johnson and a sclerotic Westminster. A strong showing for the SNP, a significant increase in seats and votes, will destroy the narrative that Scotland doesn’t want another independence referendum because the SNP lost seats in 2017. The signs are positive that the party leadership has learned the lesson of that disastrous campaign, and the question of independence and Scotland’s sovereign right to determine its own future within or outwith the UK will be front and foremost in next month’s General Election. And it’s going to be kicked off with Nicola Sturgeon’s first speech to an independence rally since 2014 in George Square in Glasgow this Saturday.

You might say to yourself that the SNP already have a mandate for a referendum, and a fat lot of use it’s done so far. You’d not be wrong. But don’t allow yourself to be seduced by the comforting self-righteousness of telling yourself that you will not support the SNP in this election but will vote yes in an independence referendum. If you don’t support the SNP in this election, you make it harder to achieve the referendum, you make it less likely that it will ever take place. SNP voters who stay away from the polls will not be portrayed in the media as a reflection on the unhappiness within the independence movement about how best to get an independence referendum and a lack of confidence in Nicola Sturgeon’s pursuit of a Section 30 order. There will be no newspaper editorials or BBC discussions about how the failure of the SNP to get its vote out will be because of disagreements about gender politics. The sole narrative will be that Scotland isn’t interested in independence. You’re kidding yourself on if you believe that the media will say anything else.

If we want to win Scottish independence, it’s not enough for us to say so once or twice, or even three times or four times. We need to keep saying it insistently and consistently until the clamour becomes impossible to ignore. We need to keep saying it until all those soft no voters and undecided voters in Scotland realise that alternative paths to independence are justified and justifiable, that it’s Westminster which is acting undemocratically and unreasonably. We’re only going to win independence when we take them with us. We can’t make the mistake of talking amongst ourselves in a pro-indy bubble.

Westminster General Elections are always difficult for the SNP. The UK media takes over and Scottish narratives are drowned out in the clamour from a press and broadcast media that has difficulty looking beyond the M25 – and when it does it’s to give us some vox pops from leave voting areas in the English Midlands. It becomes harder to assert and get a hearing for Scotland’s priorities. Democracy is essentially a process in story telling, in setting agendas, in explaining and persuasion. Scotland’s distinctive voice in all this becomes hard to hear over the scoffs and guffaws of Conservative entitlement, the self-righteous harrumphage of Labour, and the irritable vowel syndrome of the Lib Dems. This is, apparently, a Union benefit. That makes it all the more important that we win on the ground, that SNP activists and supporters get up and get out there, persuading, making Scotland’s case, and telling Scotland’s story. The media won’t be doing it for us.

Conservative victories and Scottish Conservative politicians are media constructs, SNP victories are me and you constructs. Scottish independence will also be a me and you construct. We have to work to build it. Let’s get to work and make this the panda election.

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35 thoughts on “The panda election

  1. Agree 100% in your message here.

    Welcome home, hope you and Peter had a good time and that he will be over here soon.

  2. The point needs to be hammered home – vote SNP in this General Election, don’t stay at home, even if it makes you boak.

    And the best people to ram that message home may even be the very ones who dislike the SNP the most. Something along the lines of:

    “I really really don’t like the SNP but for the sake of Indy, Indy Ref 2 and #indyref2020 I am voting SNP this election, even if I never vote SNP again”.

    Speaking for a friend 🙂

  3. “… the irritable vowel syndrome of the Lib Dems” 🙂

    To be fair though, the LibDems may have an important role south of the Border, in driving a wedge between the Big Two, along with the SNP of course, that goes without saying. Would them getting wiped out in Scotland make them more likely to support Indy, seeing as they’d have nothing to lose and indeed would need to keep the SNP sweet for as long as they remained at WM ???

    • Wipe out Jo Swinson up here …and I will be happy . She does us no favours , so let us do her . Swinson out ! Swinson out!

      • I would be especially happy if she gets ousted as she is my absentee Mp. I had a Libdem canvasser at the door the other day. I told him that I would absolutely not be supporting Jo at the next election. He tried to convince me that she rents a house in the constituency funny how no one seems to know even what district this alleged house is in

  4. Lets all keep our feet on the ground, and fight for all we’re worth..
    Every election in my lifetime (3score and 10) when the SNP are riding high, the media step up their attacks—we get even more Rule Britannia stuff, and they sit on any good news.
    “Bias”? Who us? Lordy, lordy! Haw, haw, haw!

    Nightly on Revolting Scotland, Boris gets at least two free shots—that’s without the election starting.
    The Boris Broadcasting Corps will big him up for the next 5 weeks–no questions asked!

  5. Glad to have you back and hope Peter is back with you soon, Paul.

    Agree totally with you and, as an SNP activist, would absolutely encourage anyone who is a member of a pro-independence party to reach out to their local branch office and see what’s going on. I know my branch will be sending out emails advising of leafletting runs, canvassing etc but even if you don’t feel up to any of that, there is always support needed in the local hub offices. We’ll find something to suit you!!

  6. Hope you had great trip and it won’t be too long before hubby is residing permanently in Scotland, Paul X

    And thanks for the great, timely article.

    ”That makes it all the more important that we win on the ground, that SNP activists and supporters get up and get out there, persuading, making Scotland’s case, and telling Scotland’s story. The media won’t be doing it for us.”

    So yes get out there folks and campaign for the SNP and then vote for the SNP, as it’s the ONLY political party capable of getting us out of the hellhole.

    Join the party and / or donate. £5 a year for individuals aged 60 or over, the unwaged, part-time workers and students.

    £2 a year for the under 16’s. Our future voters or even politicians!

    And take note LBJ won’t be kidding when he says this. And there will be more to come, much more, if we don’t get out of this Union.

    • Some of the quotes in the Anna Soubry twitter.
      Separate independent countries sharing the ONE ISLAND.
      A look at an atlas of the world we live on shows that there are several islands which have numerous countries, try the Americas, Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Columbia etc, seems to be the Normal way of things.
      Agree though that we might just live to see not only an independent Scotland but Wales and the Island of Ireland reunited.
      The empire is closing down, the music hall of westmonster is past it’s sell by date.

  7. Saw a woman being interviewed by STV the other night and claiming that this was a General election and not about single issues.
    People aren’t going to be interested in how harder the Tories are going to crack down on crime when Brexit almost certainly means the end of the NHS and all the other social services people have come to expect.
    That will happen in England and the issue for Scots is,whether they wish to remain a part of Greater England or not.
    Definitely about big single issues.

  8. Watching prime minister’s questions, An SNP member asked Boris if he would grant Scotland a section 30 order. He did not say no, he said Scotland said it was once in a lifetime vote.
    He knows he cannot refuse, according to the Treaty of Union.

    • William, STV news footage tonight showed LBJ ranting (today in the Commons) that there will be two referendums next year and pointing at SNP politicians said … an Independence referendum. He didn’t come across to me as being someone who’s going to block a Section 30 Order. Probably because he knows that he can’t.

  9. Here’s one I prepared for an earlier General Election (2015, in fact), but have now updated it. I hope you will enjoy.

    55. (of 60.)

    Hurricane Nicola

    Once upon a time, a man called Jack Union decided to build a house. He collected together some blue bricks and started to lay the foundations to his house. But he was not happy with just blue bricks, so he found some red bricks and mortared them alongside the blue bricks. And then he found some yellow bricks and placed them in the west wall of his house.

    He thought his house was then complete, until he realised that there was nothing upstairs. So he hurriedly found some purple bricks and put them to form an attic – he did not want people to think he had nothing upstairs.

    Jack’s house was now built and he stood back to admire his handiwork. He was very happy with his efforts. He called his new home, ‘Westminster House’ and he was very pleased with all that he had achieved in its construction. He could now spend the rest of his life in quiet contentment and he smiled as he thought of himself as lord of all that he surveyed. Nobody and nothing was going to mar his enjoyment of Westminster House. Or so he thought …

    And then, one evening, Jack Union was watching the news on his television in the plush living room of Westminster House. After the usual banalities involving celebrities and their latest tattoos and something about a green-minded Royal jetting off to some ecological conference where he could pontificate on the need to save the planet, the programme changed to the weather forecast.

    Now, normally, Jack Union would not have given any credence to such a programme. Meteorologists were as accurate as Mystic Meg in predicting Lotto winners or those shysters who read your future from your palm at £5 a throw at village fêtes in Jack’s opinion. According to Jack, fortune telling, and predicting the future, and that included stating what next Tuesday’s weather was going to be like, was a load of crystal balls. And yet. And yet, the sincerity with which the weather forecaster spoke unnerved Jack that night.

    You see, the forecaster was convinced (and she said she had the support of many of her professional colleagues in the matter) that a large storm was brewing in the north of the country. She and her colleagues had already named the storm ‘Hurricane Nicola’, and it was growing in strength on a daily basis. On current estimates, Hurricane Nicola would wreak extreme damage on many properties currently owned by the large real estate company, Carslaw & Leonard (Holdings) plc, located in the north of the country. (An earlier venture in Rennies Pharmaceuticals plc., had collapsed, and Jack Union was to rue the fact that the prospectus for that company was all wrong. Far from dissipating indigestion, Rennies actually made you full of wind and hot air. A similar business entity, Swinsons, offered you an investment in a yellow, sickly tablet – but in addition to being rather cloying to the taste, the said tablet regularly infected its user with IVS – Irritable Vowel Syndrome.)

    The consensus (and the weather forecaster had to stifle a giggle at her own witticism at this point) was that Carslaw & Leonard (Holdings) Ltd would not be ‘holding much property’ after the passage of Hurricane Nicola. Now, if that was not scary enough to Jack Union (he held a substantial amount of shares in Carslaw & Leonard (Holdings) Ltd), he then followed the presenter’s right arm as it swept over the country. With a beating heart, short, irregular breaths and a lump in his throat, he saw that Hurricane Nicola’s trajectory would sweep over the whole country. Westminster House and the surrounding village were in its direct path – in the eye of the storm, as it were.

    Jack Union swallowed thickly. He was aware that there had been a few rumbling thunderstorms around Westminster House since his taking up residence, but he had taken very little notice of these. The most recent one, in September 2014, had initially threatened to demolish his property.
    As it turned out however, very little structural damage had occurred. Jack had got the builders to paint over the cracks with some red, white and blue paint. He also convinced himself that that was the end of the matter, and he could carry on living at Westminster House as he had previously. The painters involved, Lord, Smith and Kelvin Ltd., had done a thorough whitewashing job and Jack Union was pleased with their efforts.

    Now it seemed their work was in vain. The meteorologists were convinced that Hurricane Nicola was on its (maybe ‘her’) way – and Jack Union’s way. Nothing would be able to stop her progress.
    They advised Jack and others in the path of Hurricane Nicola to leave their residences (including Westminster House) that were the most likely to suffer a battering, as they feared that when (not ‘if’) the storm arrived, it was exceedingly likely that Westminster House would be completely destroyed and that Jack would be found under its rubble; at best severely bruised.

    Jack was in a quandary. He did not want to believe the meteorologists or any other weather experts. Normally, he would have dismissed such talk of the destruction of Westminster House as, “scaremongering piffle.” And he did not want to leave Westminster House. Yet he was fearful that if all the prognostics were correct, he would indeed become a casualty in his own home when Hurricane Nicola came and Westminster House collapsed around his ears.

    With sweating palms, a pallid look on his face and swallowing heavily, Jack Union hauled himself up to bed. He would not have a restful sleep from now on until the arrival of the storm. The build up to Hurricane Nicola’s appearance in his neck of the woods was proving to be very worrying to Jack Union, and there was nothing he could do about it.

    Parables for the New Politics

  10. Good one, WS. I hope they realise that Hurricane Nicola IS on the way and that’s no “scaremongering piffle.”


    I posted a Kevin McKenna poem on the last thread, that I think you’ll appreciate.

  11. The SNP lost seats in the 2017 but it has to be put in context. The 2015 win was a reaction to the outcome of IndyRef1. The Evel reaction and the broken promises. The 2015 SNP 50% win was the highest in British political history since 1928. It was even better the Labour post war landslide. 45%. It was an incredible outcome. People who never vote, came out to vote, as they will in another IndyRef. It was quite unique. Unless it happens again in December.

    People call the 2017 a defeat by comparison but it was a readjustment.

    After Thatcher people in Scotland would not vote Tory. Until the Davidson anti Independence Party started. Now run out of steam. Davidson could be voted out. Now looking for an alternative income stream from other Tory outlets. Never trust a Tory, especially in Scotland.

    It is a wonder older people in Scotland voted No having experienced Thatcher. There were many lies told. Some people never learn.

    Just vote SNP and get one other to vote as well. Same for Independence. It is surprising that people who support Independence vote for unionist parties. They do not support Independence. Even the Greens are catching on and not standing in some seats. Thanks for that.

    • Another factor in 2017 was Kezia Dugdale telling Labour voters to vote TORY ( imagine ! ) to keep out the SNP . Hang your head in shame anyone who did that !

  12. The Glasgow Provost resigns. At least she brought a bit of lively loveliness to the job. A few pair of shoes too many. They could always be recycled for charity. Sadie spent as much on other matters.

    £4.000 for expenses. Glasgow City Council Budget £1Billion+ Equal pay for Glasgow women after years and years, £1/2Billion. Thanks to the SNP administration. Good swop.

    Now it will be some boring old man. Supporting Orange Marches. Unequal, illegal, unfair and unnecessary. Costing the economy a fortune.

    The line dancer chancer had a property company £Millions in the family. Publicly funded. Some folk have a short memory. The cheating Provost in the car. The covered up Labour scandals.

    Illegal wars, financial fraud and tax evasion. Scotland asset stripped to pay for Westminster illegal incompetence and fraud.

    Everyone coming out of the woodwork to support the SNP. About time too. Instead of going over to the dark side.

    • When we allow manipulation of public opinion for political ends, we undermine our own institutions. Did she exceed the allowance? No. End of.
      What should be getting loudly shouted at the complicit media on each and every mention of this fiasco is WHO was behind this, and WHY was this campaign mounted to hound her from office?
      Anything with a SNP label on it seems to have become a target for these dark forces of late, the question remains who is next?

  13. The Tories are deserting the sinking ship. They are all not standing again, Rudd, Lidington and many others. Another one down, another one gone. Another one hits the dust. Johnston might not be re-elected according to some reports.

    The Tories have to have an election they can lose to get them out of their mess.

    Voters should help them lose by voting for someone else. Vote SNP/SNP. Vote for Independence. Get someone else to vote as well. To get out of the mess. To prosperity in the EU.

  14. Well said Paul.

    Probably worth a thought folks, but on the question of voting or not voting some may be considering?

    You don’t vote, you don’t get a say… In anything that comes our way. Winter weather, dark nights, dipping temperatures don’t matter a damn. If you value the continuance of a Holyrood parliament that’s worth anything. If you value self government at all, then you get out there and vote.

    The gate will ONLY stay unlocked so long as there is a party in place willing to keep it that way.

    As I said. It’s worth a thought.

  15. Yes, Macart! There are no excuses for not exercising your hard-won right as a citizen to have your say. So don’t forget postal voting for those where weather could very well be a challenge. It’s a small thing, but every legitimate tool can and should be used in this election to make sure that the greatest possible number of registered voters have their say.

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